Season 3 of Netflix’s House Of Cards is holding off on beginning production until mid-June pending the outcome of two separate bills in the Maryland Legislature that would ensure another season of lucrative state tax breaks for the political drama, which just launched its Season 2 on the streaming service last week. The Emmy-nominated series set in Washington, D.C., was officially renewed for a third season earlier this month. Series producer Media Rights Capital, which planned to start shooting Season 3 in early spring, received more than $11 million in Maryland tax credits for Season 1 and Season 2′s incentives could reach $15 million, the Wall Street Journal reported today. We hear that MRC is seeking a tax credit for Season 3 in line with Season 2′s $15 million, which as of now is impossible as Maryland’s current cap is $7.5 million. The two bills, which are languishing in committee, would raise the ceiling to $11 million or $18.5 million. Deadline has confirmed that MRC has sent a letter to several politicians, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, regarding the bills. The letter (read it in full below) pulls no punches in saying that the incentives must be approved if the production were to stay in the state. “In the event sufficient incentives do not become available, we will have to break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state,” said the letter, signed by Charlie Goldstein, MRC’s SVP Television Production. The issue has been stirring a heated debate in the Maryland Legislature. “Is it possible that they would just leave after we gave them $31 million?” Del. C. William Frick, D-Montgomery, said during a contentious hearing last week, according to WSJ.
After resurrecting The Killing for a final season after its cancellation by AMC, Netflix is doing the same for Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The streaming service will debut a 13-episode sixth and final installment of the animated series …
Vinessa Shaw (Vegas, 3:10 To Yuma) has signed on for a season-long arc on Showtime’s Ray Donovan. (SPOILER ALERT!) Shaw will play Kate, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Boston Globe who is writing a book on Sully (James Woods’ character from last season) and comes to L.A. to investigate his death. She joins recently cast Hank Azaria and Sherilyn Fenn in the upcoming second season of the Mark Gordon Co-produced series. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as LA’s best professional fixer, the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. Shaw is repped by ICM partners, Thruline Entertainment and attorney Gretchen Rush.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at CBS’ new Thursday night football deal with the NFL; Twitter’s complexity issue with newbies, and Disney’s red-hot quarter fueled by Thor and new franchise Frozen. They’ll also take a gander at those newly available HBO financial details and how they stack up against Netflix, even as Time Inc. braces for layoffs after its imminent spinoff; and question whether Microsoft’s new boss will be much different from the old boss, particularly with the company’s first boss as his new technology adviser.
“We don’t plan on releasing our metrics,” Netflix‘s Ted Sarandos said today. “There’s no benefit to showing we’re beating said network — we don’t need to,” the streaming service’s chief content officer added during the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s annual programmers luncheon in Beverly Hills. “We’re looking for a proportional success,” he said earlier of what defines success for Netflix. “Because if people vote with their time and their checkbook, they’ll watch,” he noted. “We look at how our shows do compared to other shows,” he added of how Netflix internally assesses its programming. “We know how many hours people watch, the drop-out rates…what devices people are watching on because that says a lot about behavior too.”
“You know in the culture that Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards are enormous hits,” Sarandos said of two of Netflix’s original series.
Other panelists took a different approach discussing their programming philosophy. “I believe in the tantric form of television,” Showtime’s President of Entertainment David Nevins said. “Slow, steady, don’t want to give it to them too soon,” he added to huge laughter from the crowd. Steamy innuendo aside, the cable exec had been debating over philosophies of TV viewing. Sarandos, not surprisingly, was a big proponent of the binge viewing that has come to define Neflix’s original series like House Of Cards.
The company didn’t make a direct connection to Netflix — but the comparisons, especially in profitability (see chart below), become irresistible now that Time Warner reports results for HBO, previously lumped with Turner networks. This morning’s numbers scratch the surface; other filings should tell us much more. The company intends to take advantage of HBO’s financial firepower: HBO will increase spending and hours for original series in 2014, CEO Jeff Bewkes told analysts. Much of the spending will boost Cinemax, which he calls “an under-appreciated asset” with more viewers than Starz and about about the same as Showtime. HBO, the channel, accounts for about two-third of the operation’s 45M domestic and 85M overseas subs. Execs also noted that subs are growing at a healthy pace, with domestic up by 2M in 2013. International revenues account for 25% of the unit’s total — a number that’s expected to grow. Bewkes says that Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have had “no discernible effect” on HBO so far.
Here’s how HBO and Netflix compare on the top and bottom lines:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Netflix Execs Headed Back To France For Expansion Talks; Patrick Malone Joins Goldcrest Post; More
Netflix Execs Headed Back To France For More Expansion Talks
Last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company was eyeing “substantial” European expansion in 2014. His comments came a little more than a month after execs from the streaming service met with staff of French President François Hollande to discuss an entry into France. According to local media reports, Netflix execs now are due to return to France to meet with industry folk within the next week. Pascal Rogard, head of authors’ rights group the SACD, told Le Figaro that the situation is coming into focus with a possible launch later this year. Netflix is available in 41 countries including France’s neighbors to the north such as the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic region. A French launch has been rumored over the years, but moving into the fiercely protected territory is ornery in part due to a complex film-windows chronology that prohibits movies from appearing on monthly SVOD services until three years after a theatrical release. There is no such protection for TV series, but Netflix’s House Of Cards already airs on local pay-TV leader Canal Plus, which would see the service’s arrival as competition. In a conversation with analysts, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was asked last week whether the service would be out of certain markets with its key originals because it had already sold them to local providers. “It depends,” he said. “There’s multiple windows, and we’ll continue to have those negotiations as we get closer to those launches.” It’s expected that should Netflix enter France, it would have to adhere to obligations to invest in local content. Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti told Le Journal du Dimanche this weekend, “Netflix should be an additional player, not a stowaway.” It’s also believed that Netflix is eyeing a move into Germany. With regard to expansion, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson said last week that “it remains difficult to figure out the ultimate size and value of Netflix’s international opportunity” due to the company’s “undisclosed new market entries, minimal transparency and continual reinvestment.”
The company seems to be beyond criticism since last week, when it reported stronger-than-expected Q4 results. That news sent shares soaring about 17%. And today they touched a new all-time high of $407.41 before closing at $406.77 — which is …